Nothing against your Dad or trainer, and at this point you are entered so might as well go, but this is the kind of denial/craziness that surrounds a horse with a problem like this and why the problems seldom get solved. We have a horse with a serious bolting problem and a rider who is scared of him and their focus is on showing! Well I speak from experience (only in dressage) as I was also showing a horse with a bolt/spook problem instead of solving the basic obedience issues.
I am not a jumper (jumping for me means cross rails lol),. but obedience and control by the rider is the same no matter what. You mention he runs out sometimes between fences, and bolts sometimes after fences? Imo, bring him back to the lowest fences/crossrails and make sure there is strict listening to your aids...no running out on a fence and no bolting/speeding up afer a fence.
Work him on the ground (not hang out with him on the ground). Can he lunge obediently, stop, start, not come in on you, maintain pace without speeding up or slowing down? Many problems show themselves in lunge work.
Ground work, in hand turns on forehand, backing up, etc, Linda Tellington Jones or any basic Natural Horsemanship.
Under saddle flat work, moving off leg immediately (many bolters are also balkers/behind the leg), total on the aids, turning, stopping, rating his speed at gaits, total control. When you have all this, then go back to showing. When you have all this, you will have an obedient horse you are not afraid of.
And imo, you have to be the main rider in this, though the trainer can ride through at beginning, you sound like an excellent rider who can do this.
Basically, go beginning of walk halt turn move off leg , etc, and install basic obedience and listening to your aids, including a great halt and he stands and does not move from the halt till you tell him. Will he do that now?
Able to take him on hacks without drama, etc. That is the only way this will get solved, and I did all this with my second horse (green when I got him, only 4 rides ) , but I learned from all my mistakes with my first horse not to progress to anything till I had absolute obedience and on the aids for the simplest of things.
Ouch sammicat! That had to hurt. Hopefully it's a simple break and won't take long to heal. =]
Thank you for the story. Hearing I'm not alone is really helpful. I mean, I logically know I am not the only one with this issue, but actually hearing other people's experiences is wonderful.
And I rode my old show horse, Kody, last night. He retired a couple years ago because of mild navicular and a tear in his deep digital flexor tendon. Well, fast forward to a few months ago, and we decide that he might enjoy being in a bit of work, and we'll see if he stays sound. He's sound, haha, and loving his job. He's actually jumping small crossrails, carefully. Well, me carefully, him going "Yahoo! This is great!". It was so nice riding him. I wasn't afraid of him, I know he wouldn't bolt or refuse the fence. I'm so sad he'll never go above crossrails again- I miss him.
Today is my lesson, so I'll talk to my trainer about all this. It may be time to start horse shopping.
From someone who spent five years with an excellent trainer trying to make a strong, opinionated horse do a job he didn't want to do, and who finally sold him only to discover how much more fun riding can be when you're not afraid your horse might hurt you......please look into selling him. It's really hard to see from the inside, and you'll keep telling yourself you can make it work, that you're making a little bit of progress. But these kind of horses can WRECK your confidence, and your riding in general.
I went from showing at 3'6" and thinking about moving up on the horse before the scary one, to being terrified of a 2'6" vertical. Even now, having sold scary horse to a more seasoned person, and having spent the money to buy a very nice quality horse with no skeletons in the closet, I still get extremely nervous anytime the jumps go up to 3'. That horse was the first one to really hurt me physically too - got bucked off a couple of times and ended up in bed with terrible back spasms.
Like someone else said, we sacrifice way too much time and money to ride not to have it be fun and rewarding MOST of the time. If you've had him for two years, you've given it a fair shake - and you're never going to know when he might bolt again. Life is just too short......I know this isn't what you're going to want to hear - I didn't want to hear it either. But five years later, when I finally asked my trainer what it would take to find a horse that would build my confidence, rather than wreck it, it was such a relief, even though I was heartbroken to sell him.
OP, you can tell yor Dad that 2 years is NOT giving up "too early". How old is this horse? How many years under saddle?
There is a huge difference between a dead green 3 year old with some bad habits and something older with years of ingrained bad habits and/or, worse, bad behavior. That kind of a bolt out of nowhere with a drop and spin is calculated and always going to be a possibility. No matter your emotional investment, the horse does not mind trying to hurt you.
After 2 years and a lot of money and more time spent on a horse that was supposed to be broke when you bought it? You ought to be doing more then grooming and ground work with confidence. In other words, it's probably not you, it's the horse. We can't fix them all. Skip the show and put that money towards either full time training including a pro rider or another horse.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
Remember the feeling on Kody and know that this is what riding should feel like. In my opinion, you should get off most, if not all, your rides with that feeling that you and your horse truly enjoyed yourselves. I know it takes time to build that kind of rapport and confidence, but you should definitely have it by now with the new horse if it's going to work.
I always take my big guy for a leisurely stroll after we work. I babble on about what a good boy he is and we stop and look at random things like streams, bunnies, and ground hogs. We even watched deer graze one day. It's been my way of making sure we end the ride on a good note. I would never trade being able to do this. I think, for what it's worth, that you should shoot for being able to find moments like this. It makes the bad moments seem so insignificant.
@ Hunter - Your story reminds me of a good friend who has an incredibly talented 6 year old Oldenburg Mare. I have watched this horse do so many nasty unpredictable things that I feel like I'm just standing by waiting for the worst to happen. Heck, the mare doesn't even trailer without throwing a hissy fit. My friend is very talented and brave, and I've spoken with the trainer about my feelings, but my friend LOVES her mare and will not even consider selling her. It's sad for me to watch everything that my friend is missing by sticking to the horse with so much potential.
So sorry for my slow reply. I only see all the responses everyone left now- got no emails or anything. When I looked this morning, I could only see the first page.
Thank you for all the stories. It's great to see how people have worked with horses like this, and I'm glad it isn't just a total "sell him" type thing. Our lesson went okay this morning, he tried to pull his stunts a couple times, but nothing serious.
FineAlready, thank you. That post was perfect. Found myself nodding along to it.
To answer a few more questions. This horse is on all-night turnout, so from 6:15 pm to 8 am or so. I'm not sure of his exact grain, but he is on all Purina. I think he's getting mostly Healthy Edge. I will definitely talk to the BM and see what she thinks about cutting his grain back, even just to see if that helps.
I do know this horse has a bone spur in each hock, we know it when we got him, and they haven't changed in years. I'm very careful with his hocks, but he may be stepping funny and hurting, then bolting. He gets Adequan 2x/month, Cosequin everday in AM, and his hocks and right stifle injected every 6-8 months. Back on Track products are used as much as he'll tolerate (when it's hot like this, the added heat really agitates him).
He does gets his back worked on sometimes, and he definitely feels better now. He's got the classic TB high-withers back and is somewhat hard to fit. My saddle almost fits him and I pad the rest, and he doesn't seem back sore, but if he's sensitive enough it could be bothering him. I'll post another thread about saddles.
Wow, I have a hard time writing little posts, lol. Thanks again everyone!!
Just wanted to reply...I noticed you said the horse had good ground manners. Doing ground work (at least in my book) is different than the basic ground manners we expect. My mare has had good ground manners when leading and working around the barn since she was fairly young. The things that we worked on were more in a schooling nature, like backing thru poles set up in an L pattern or between two poles with plastic drink bottles on the ground, balloons hanging on jumps, dragging something behind or backing horse and dragging something towards from the front, flares set in the ring making smoke and noise, walking over tarps or bubble wrap. SIde passing over poles, etc. Anything to sort of push the envelope so to speak. Once the exercises can be done with reasonable sanity from the ground, then try them mounted. Good luck!
Purina...yikes! Purina esp Strategy (healthy edge) can make horses very hot. Imo, try changing feeds to a non Purina product (Change slowly of course)
Go online, or look on the feedbag, and try to find out what the ingredients are. Guess what, you can't. It's a proprietary formula. In other words, you have no idea what the heck's in there. Purina feeds are by percentages, rather than ingredients. They break it down, 12 % protein, 15 % fat, etc, but they don't disclose the ingredients (except for a couple of their feeds where beet pulp is the main filler)
Is the 12 % protein comprised of corn, or soy, or something else? We don't know. They only guarantee the percentages in their feeds, and the ingredients can change from batch to batch, as long as the percentages are the same.
Given the information about the bone spur, stifle and back issues?
Honestly, besides having a wicked bolt you need to step back and seriously consider he can't hold up to serious work and is trying to tell you something. Serious flatwork and jumping stress the back end.
Even though he may not limp, if you are injecting every 6 to 8 months? He's not basically sound, he hurts and that's why he tries to hurt you. He may be sound enough for an easier job.
I am not anti injections-but twice a year when you have behavior issues common as a reaction to pain? You need to rethink what you are doing.
Have you had a recent lameness evaluation? Is your vet sure the bone spur does not bother him? I mean, the horse is trying to hurt you, something is wrong.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
I second the post by find eight, as the info on the bone spur issues etc came forward later in thread...perhaps try mainly simple hacking for a month and see if behavior problems are there or not, aka if the work is too hard for him.
Let me share this. Have a friend with a nicer gelding, maybe 8 years old at the time, doing the 3' Adult Hunters. Inexplicably started behaving erratically and borderline dangerously. Vet found nothing in a lameness eval including blocks and some rads to answer any questionable areas. Nothing turned up.
Behavior came and went, friend got to where she stopped showing, tried a lighter schedual, no jumping and it got much better. Tried to do serious flat or jump? He'd try to kill her or Pro rider.
Vet suggested ultra sounding all 4 legs. Found evidence of TWO suspensories behind. One healed with the norm treatment and rehab but the other did not. Best guess is the one that healed was compensatory damage from trying to protect the first, and worst, one. This horse always was a little hocky with diagnosed minor arthritic changes but never appeared or vetted unsound.
Horse has been off for 2 years this month and they are into him for over 7k in diagnostics and assorted treatments. They plan on trying to bring him back this summer but friend is scared of him. If he comes back sound? They will sell him
OP could have bought something like this with pre exsisting issues seller may have believed healed (or not) that don't come up on the usual PPE because few ultrasound looking for evidence of suspensory trouble.
OP, can you share this horse's age and any backstory you got when you bought him? How old is he and what was he doing before you got him .
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
I haven't read through all the responses, but has there been any vet work up on this guy? besides the obvious he-just-might-have-a-screw-loose answer, maybe there is something really bothering him that isn't obvious and was missed in whatever PPE you did before you bought him. Kissing Spine? OCDs? has he had any chiro work or acupuncture? are you sure your saddle fits him properly?
Now I am gonna get a little nutty, because I have had a few screwballs myself and at the advice of rational BNT's they suggested this knowing it was outlandish-call a Psychic. Some do it all over the phone, if you have one local they can come out and look at him and they usually are not very expensive. I have seen drastic improvements in a horse from a single Psychic visit and I would never have believed it had I not seen it myself. Something as simple as a horse not liking where his stall was-they moved the horse and instantly he was a happy camper.
Now onto diet-there are lots of grains out there that can make a horse hot. You need to find a low sugar, low starch grain and see if that helps. Have you considered a calming supplement like Perfect Prep training day powder?
I think you need to start back at square one, because obviously things aren't getting better and being afraid to ride your own horse is nonsense and only makes it worse-he CAN sense your tension and hesitance in the saddle and that will set him off too. Showing is great, but if he's going to explode every time out, it's not worth it and it's not safe-not for you or the other riders in the ring.
I'd start with a vet, psychic, diet changes and see where you are in 90 days. But at some point with no improvements there will come a time to cut and run. I sadly had to do this with a TB I had in highschool. He was supposed to pay for my college education (my god the most gorgeous mover and jumper and physically a knock out), but was so unpredictable it got to a point where my trainers said 'look, we have a business to run and can't risk permanent injury training him anymore'. he is now 20 and in my backyard keeping my yearling company. It happens, but at some point you have to stop beating your head against a wall.
One thing your horse should know really, really well is a "one rein stop"...also, check for pain, feed them something "slow" (I find the amplify pellet in some of the P'na feeds to make the horses high, and I think it might be in Healthy Edge likewise Strategy..it makes some horses hot). That's all I have to add to all of these great suggestions. I can totally relate to your issues.
Definitely didn't know about the Purina feeds- that's really good to know. I'll talk to BM and see what we can do differently. Wish me luck!
I got this horse end of January of 2011. He was marketed to us as a winning 3' hunter and successfully shown 3'6 with a junior at USEF rated shows. This came from the trainer selling him, as well as the trainer we had as our agent (which I'll admit, I didn't like). Rode him at a show in a packed schooling ring- perfect gentleman. Quiet, easy-going, just "yeah, craziness going on, whatever".
So we bring him back to our trainer's barn for a few days, and I take a lesson on him the next day. He's still quiet, but now we find out that he has his changes, but he freaks out about them. We all figure that it's a mental issue and fitness issue (he'd been in once a week work for almost a year), and it'll get better in time. Bring him home for a two week trial.
He's good at home, loving, friendly, and still quiet. We haven't done much other than simple flatwork though, because I hadn't ridden much in the last 7 months. The horse's trainer (and seller) comes to give me a lesson on him and there aren't any major issues jumping, just a light increase in speed after the fence. This trainer decides the cut the 2 week trial short to one week, and we have to decide then and there if we want him, or he goes home tomorrow. So I got him.
His seller said he was 12 when I bought him. When we took him up to our vet to get his hocks done, they said they had him on file as 13. The vet who did the prepurchase said he was 13-16, but not any older. The equine dentist agreed with the 13-16 age range. USEF has him as 12 this year.
Also decided to go look his show record up, sometime last year. His USEF number was not given to us until we bought him. He was shown 3 or 4 times in the last 6 years at USEF shows, and he did Low Children's (many DNP in a field of 7 or 8) a few times, and Pre Green's twice (several DNP and a few fourths and fifths). His only win came from a show two months before we bought him, at the 3' level with his trainer. One division. He definitely did not do what they said he had done, at least not at USEF shows.
We definitely got taken with this horse. I kick myself for it, but can't do anything now. I just know to be extra careful now. And to not go through our trainer anymore when looking at horses for us.
Thoughts create, change what you are thinking on and off your horse. The one thing that stood clear in your post " I love him so much ". Focus on this, your thoughts will jell with this happy feeling rather than the "fear" feeling-thought, use this "love feeling" to LIFT your enjoyment of riding.......your horse....
If you are focus, happy and worry free, there is a good chance, your horse will be too
I'm sorry, but I feel that I have to respond to this. Yes, of course horses can sense when a rider is nervous or lacking confidence, but I don't think it is realistic to tell someone that thinking about how much they love their horse or pretending to be confident and happy is going to solve issues like spooking, bolting or bucking.
Some horses do have spooking or bolting issues that can be improved by rider attitude, but IME that attitude is NOT filled with sunshiny and uplifting thoughts, it's about exuding a toughness and confidence that the rider actually has.
interesting story about your trial, the trainer coming to give you a lesson and demanding the trial end a week short. Sounds like he was given Resurpine, and when she saw him getting quick with you after fences she knew it was wearing off, and had to save her arse. This is one of the ugly sides of horse buying and selling and unfortunately, it happens VERY often.
On, Kiera, I am so sorry for you. You got screwed, no other way to put it.
You got a somewhere between 12-16+year old horse with spotty backstory that likely has to do with the sad fact he really is not sound enough to do the job for you and/ has behavior problems he has probably been doing for years. Pain and behavior are often related but as his prime competition years wind down? He's not going to change much or all.
Reserpine is a good guess...unfortunately. Too late now but the seller specifically misrepresented age and show record probably suitability too but that's subjective and you couldn't sue over it. This is the kind of thing that begs for a lawsuit...
Maybe somebody would want him as just a trail or pleasure kind of horse, or even a kid horse, some of them love that, no jumps and no pressure. They might take him in trade or something.
I feel bad for you here, bad for the horse too at this point in his life.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
With this history & health issues, I'd just re-home, if you can eke out a few $ great, but he is going to cost you $$$$ to maintain & keep & train & much more if you get seriously injured (even just the cost in loss of confidence is already enough)